NPP using backdoor approach to retrieve teacher trainee allowance from trainees-Dr. Apaak

The Member of Parliament for Builsa South, Dr. Clement Apaak has suggested the current administration was using a backdoor approach to retrieve from teacher trainees, the allowances given them through the introduction of the introduction of this compulsory national service and licensure examinations.

Speaking at the 24th National Congress Of The Teacher Trainees’ Association Of Ghana, At St. Francis College Of Education, the legislator was of the opinion that if teacher trainees had taken loans and got recruited immediately after college without doing national service, they would have been on a net annual salary of about GHc19, 884.00 compared to an annual national service allowance of GHc6, 600.00 at the rate of GHc550.00 per month; a difference of GHc13, 284.00.

He further explained that the difference would have been more than enough to settle any student loan scheme the student must have enrolled unto as proposed by the previous government.

‘’The question I pose to you is which of the two contesting policies would have better enhanced teacher education in the Colleges of Education?’’

He further explained to the audience that ‘’Prior to 2016, teacher trainees were receiving monthly allowances of GHc 550.00. Following the upgrading of the Colleges of Education to tertiary status, the NDC government issued a policy statement that: 1. Sought to replace the allowance with a student loan as pertains in all tertiary institutions in the country;
2. Removed the quota system of admission into the colleges that limited the number of qualified students that could gain admission to the colleges. Admissions that year increased from about 10,000 to 16,400;
3. Ensured the continuous automatic employment of trainees after completion without any compulsory national service and licensure examination requirements for recruitment of teachers. 
4. Made feeding of students a responsibility of government or the state.

These policies did not go down well with teacher trainees, especially the replacement of the allowance with a loan scheme and this became a major campaign issue in the run up to the 2016 elections.’’

Read Below his full statement

“ADVANCING THE ROLE OF TEACHER EDUCATION IN GHANA:
THE IMPACT OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES”

ADDRESS BY HON. CLEMENT APAAK, MP FOR BUILSA SOUTH AND DEPUTY RANKING MEMBER OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, AT THE 24TH NATIONAL CONGRESS OF THE TEACHER TRAINEES’ ASSOCIATION OF GHANA, AT ST. FRANCIS COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, HOHOE, VR ( FRI. 6TH SEPT 2019).

Mr. Chairman; National Executive Committee and Delegates of Teacher Trainees’ Association of Ghana; Distinguished Guests; Friends from the Media; Ladies and Gentlemen; all herein gathered.

Kindly permit me to first convey my sincerest gratitude to the National Executives of Teacher Trainees’ Association of Ghana for inviting me to be part of this important Congress.

I consider this invitation not just as an honour done me; I am also elated to be in this historic city of Hohoe, which hosts two great Colleges of Education, St. Theresa’s College and our host, St. Francis. I am convinced that the divine spirits of these two Saints are hovering over this congress and giving us the divine protection and courage to approach deliberations in a manner that will ensure a fruitful outcome.

Mr. President, there could not have been a better theme for this Congress than the one chosen, Advancing the Role of Teacher Education; the Impact of Government Policies. The theme is apt, cogent and timely, considering the challenging terrain teacher education has been traversing in recent times.

A major objective of the Education Reform of 1987 is to make education more relevant to the socio-economic needs of the country, so that the Ghanaian child will be able to live a productive and meaningful life. Teacher education and good quality teachers produced by this education are the medium through which the above objective can be achieved. And for teachers to be able to perform their tasks effectively, governmental efforts at educating teachers in training must be geared towards developing in them, critical thinking skill, a minimum standard of knowledge, appropriate attitudes and values that will enable them deliver effectively.

The pivotal role of the teacher, and for that matter, teacher education, in producing the human resource of our nation can therefore not be overemphasized. The impact of government policies then comes as an important tool in shaping the type of teacher education required to lead our march in the desired direction.

Mr. Chairman, in our contemporary Ghana, it is my belief that government policy can impact on teacher education in three areas, namely:
1. Impact on the physical infrastructure at the Colleges of Education;
2. Impact on the quality, mental and psychological disposition of the trainers or lecturers of the teachers;
3. And most importantly, the impact on the teacher trainees.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests allow me to elaborate on these areas.

IMPACT ON INFRASTRUCTURE AT THE COLLEGES
Good and adequate infrastructure in our Colleges of Education is a prerequisite for ensuring good quality teaching, and consequently, good quality products. In this regard, government policy on provision of modern lecture halls, libraries, (including electronic ones) stocked with quality books and electronic information, improved accommodation for both staff and teacher trainees, befitting the new status of the Colleges as tertiary institutions of learning, access roads and toilet facilities, are very important.

Regrettably however, I have no information to confirm that this pertains at the Colleges of Education. Infrastructure of all kinds has not only seen neglect in most Colleges, but also deterioration due to lack of resources to upgrade and maintain them. Some projects started in the Colleges have come to a halt due to change in governmental policies and priorities.

And I dare predict that if the current over concentration of financial resources on the Senior High Schools is not checked, the situation in our Colleges of Education will further deteriorate.

IMPACT ON THE QUALITY OF THE LECTURERS
Another key impact of government policy on teacher education can be seen within the context of how it attracts or scares away high caliber human resource to the Colleges of Education, to train the right caliber of teachers that the country desires.

Attractive remuneration and other conditions of service are necessary to entice the right caliber of personnel to take appointments in these Colleges, and also remain therein. For those tutors already in the system, there must be a deliberate government policy to provide scholarships and grants to them to upgrade their academic and professional competencies to the highest level possible, so as to be able to shape the direction of training quality teachers.

As well, there also ought to be adequate research grants and allowances available for lecturers to easily access. These, I believe, will put lecturers in the correct mental and psychological frame to be able to produce the right caliber of teachers for our pre-tertiary institutions.

IMPACT ON TEACHER TRAINEES
Mr. Chairman, I believe the aspect of teacher education enhancement that is of paramount interest to delegates is how government policies impact on teacher trainees.

Teacher trainees are expected to develop the necessary critical thinking and analytical skills, commitment and dedication that will empower them to be able to deliver effectively.

Understandably, government policy on this segment of the teacher trainees has been the most contentious and most politicized in recent times. The key areas of interest have been:
i. Training and certification of the teacher trainees;
ii. Funding of the trainees while in college and;
iii. Employment opportunity for the teacher trainees after successful completion of their course of study.

I) TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION OF TEACHER TRAINEES
Prior to 2019, the University Of Cape Coast was the sole institution responsible for standardization of academic programmes and certification of teachers from the Colleges of Education.

From 2019 however, the 46 Colleges of Education have been allocated to various Universities that run teacher education courses as part of their academic and professional programmes. Many questions arise in relation to this new government policy and its impact on teacher education: 
1. Are these Universities going to set their own examinations for the colleges under their supervision, or there will be a central examining board for all the colleges?
2. If examinations will be set separately, how do we ensure standardization in the training of teachers?
3. Are the various Universities going to issue their own certificates or there will be a central board in charge of the issuance of one type of certificate to trainees in all the colleges?

II) FUNDING TEACHER TRAINEES WHILE IN COLLEGE
This policy on funding became most topical in the run up to the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in 2016. It has still remained so. I will therefore try to analyze the two major policy positions and leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Prior to 2016, teacher trainees were receiving monthly allowances of GHc 550.00. Following the upgrading of the Colleges of Education to tertiary status, the NDC government issued a policy statement that:
1. Sought to replace the allowance with a student loan as pertains in all tertiary institutions in the country;
2. Removed the quota system of admission into the colleges that limited the number of qualified students that could gain admission to the colleges. Admissions that year increased from about 10,000 to 16,400;
3. Ensured the continuous automatic employment of trainees after completion without any compulsory national service and licensure examination requirements for recruitment of teachers. 
4. Made feeding of students a responsibility of government or the state.

These policies did not go down well with teacher trainees, especially the replacement of the allowance with a loan scheme and this became a major campaign issue in the run up to the 2016 elections.

The outcome of this is now history. The NDC, my party, lost the elections to the NPP which campaigned on the restoration of the allowance.

The new policy by the NPP government in restoring the allowance reduced it from GHc550.00 to GHc400.00, a reduction of over 27% in value. That is not all; many strings have been attached. An amount of GHc196.00 is taken out of the restored reduced allowance of GHc400.00 as feeding fee, leaving only GHc204.00 for the trainee.

In addition, the introduction of what is called “allowance months” further reduced the allowance to the number of months that teacher trainees spend in school. In effect allowances are paid for only eight months instead of twelve. The irregularity in the payments of these allowances has also resulted in huge arrears owed to teacher trainees because the source of funding has now been shifted from GETFund to Scholarship Secretariat.

I understand that government owes even teacher trainees who completed this year, 2019, two months arrears; July and August. Added to the above is the insecurity of employment for the teacher trainees due to the introduction of compulsory national service and licensure examinations as preconditions for engaging teachers after successful completion of their programmes.

I am convinced that if politicians were honest to tell teacher trainees all these conditions in 2016, they might have taken different decisions. It seems to me as though government is passing through the backdoor to retrieve from teacher trainees, the allowances given them through the introduction of this compulsory national service and licensure examinations.

Mr. Chairman, dear delegates, let us do this simple analysis. If teacher trainees had taken loans and got recruited immediately after college without doing national service, they would have been on a net annual salary of about GHc19, 884.00 compared to an annual national service allowance of GHc6, 600.00 at the rate of GHc550.00 per month; a difference of GHc13, 284.00. That difference would have been more than enough to settle any student loan scheme the student must have enrolled unto as proposed by the previous government.

The question I pose to you is which of the two contesting policies would have better enhanced teacher education in the Colleges of Education?

III) EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR TRAINEES AFTER COLLEGE
The policy position before 2017 as I earlier alluded to was automatic recruitment of teacher trainees into the G.E.S. after successful completion of their 3-year programme in college, which also includes one year off-campus internship.

There was no compulsory national service, where teacher trainees were put on national service allowance. There was also no poorly administered teacher licensure examination as a precondition for recruiting teachers, while NABCO recruits without any professional training are allowed to take over our classrooms. The new government policy has however, made these preconditions for engagement of professional teachers by the G.E.S.

The decision to give allowance to teacher trainees instead of loans as pertains in other tertiary institutions is a political one. I therefore believe that automatic employment of teachers from the Colleges of Education without national service can be done through a political decision. Is it therefore not possible to recognize the one year internship done by teacher trainees as national service for them?

Mr. Chairman, the Education Act, Act 778 of 2008 which received presidential assent on 6th January 2009, the last day in office of the then NPP administration, in Sections 9 to 13, provides for the registration of teachers.

Section 10(d) recognizes the power of the National Teaching Council to register teachers “after they have satisfied the appropriate conditions for initial licensing and issue the appropriate license”.

I have not seen it explicitly stated in the Act that professionally trained teachers, who have successfully completed a programme of study at the colleges and are awarded certificates, must by all means write another examination and when they are not successful, cannot be allowed to teach.

Section 12 (4) of Act 778 stipulates that “the programmes of study for pre-tertiary education teachers that leads to a license to teach shall be developed in consultation with the Council”. Does it not suggest that the programme of study at the Colleges of Education is sufficient for licensing and registration of teachers to teach?

The question that comes to mind is whether the current programme of study at the Colleges, was not developed in consultation with the National Teaching Council, not even the previous one, so teachers can be registered and licensed based on their passing the examination conducted for them?

Should it become imperative that teacher trainees write additional examination, called licensure or what other name? Can it not be incorporated into the examinations taken by trainees while on campus? Won’t it eliminate the current inconvenience being caused to teachers by asking them to return to campus and pay additional fees, to sit for these examinations?

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, what I have sought to do in this address, is to hazard your thoughts and provoke discussions on contemporary governmental policies that impact on teacher education in the country. It is my hope that delegates will interrogate critically, the issues raised with a view to coming out with proposals that would elicit the appropriate government policy choices that can enhance teacher education in the country.

I therefore urge you to extend the discussions beyond the confines of the congress to your various campuses so as to enrich the outcomes of whatever decisions your Association will take.

In conclusion, I once again express my gratitude to you for the invitation to be here.

Long live the Teacher Trainees’ Association of Ghana.
Long live Ghana.

Thank you.

By: Rainbowradioonline.com

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